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The Reconstruction of Gaza

A Guidance Note for Palestinian & International Stakeholders

Steven A. Zyck
Jenny E. Hunt

Reconstructing Gaza i
Foreword by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal

The tragedy which continues to unfold in Gaza once again demonstrates the failure of force to
bring peace to one of the world’s most protracted conflicts. More than 1,300 Palestinians have
been killed, 40 percent of them women and children, and another 5,400 have been injured. The
ceasefires enacted in the recent days comprise more a pause than a solution.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a woeful tale of missed opportunities and broken promises, and
moments of hope are consistently shattered by renewed acts of aggression which entrench zero-
sum mentalities. The politics of fear must give way to the politics of hope, and the reconstruction
of Gaza, which this document addresses, possesses immediate potential to initiate this transition.

A peace dividend must arrive swiftly to show that the plight of Gazans is recognised and
abhorred by countries in the region and beyond. Yet reconstruction must be viewed as only a
first step towards the long-term aim of improving conditions on the ground through attention to
issues such as water and energy, arms control and, above all, economic development. The seeds
of peace cannot be sown where people live in constant deprivation, and an end to the underlying
cycle of violence must be pursued through genuine economic empowerment.

Such empowerment has never been prioritised by a region and an international community rife
with the sorts of divisions which prevent consensus-based action. Short-term and short-sighted
approaches have, thus, proliferated, and I am increasingly convinced of the need to develop a
new mechanism that can withstand political volatility and ensure that external rivalries and
political agendas no longer jeopardise genuine dialogue and development.

The authors of this document conclude much the same in calling for a representative Gaza
Reconstruction Council to set priorities around technical rather than political agendas. Such a
mechanism represents a promising first step towards the sort of temporary international
stabilisation agency which I believe is needed to develop democratic Palestinian institutions, to
restore basic services and the reconstitution of the now-decimated Gazan police force and,
eventually, to manage negotiations with Israel towards a lasting peace.

Such an institution should be developed carefully and through Track II negotiations involving all
Palestinian stakeholders, regional representatives, civil society, academics and international
leaders who have shown a commitment to transforming protracted conflicts. This body must take
into account best practices and lessons learned from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and beyond.

In essence, this body must continue asking the sorts of questions which are posed in this
document and which the authors address with evident concern for, above all else, the wellbeing
of the Palestinian people. I commend this contribution and its authors and urge you to consider
its findings and recommendations carefully.

HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan

President, Arab Thought Forum
President Emeritus, World Conference of Religions for Peace

Reconstructing Gaza ii
Table of Contents






2.1. A Brief Overview 3
2.2. Palestinian Politics 4
2.3. Civil Administration 5
2.4. The Economy 5
2.5. The Human Costs 6
2.6. Relation to Reconstruction 7

3.1. Donor Conferences 10
3.2. Timing of Assistance 10
3.3. Elite Pacts 10
3.4. Coordination 11
3.5. Recipient Capacity 12
3.6. Accountability, Transparency & Integrity 13
3.7. Israel 14


4.1. Foundational Recommendations 16
4.2. Operational Considerations 18
4.3. Ensuring Local Capacity & Ownership 19
4.4. Link Infrastructure & Economic Growth 20
4.5. Other Considerations 23



Reconstructing Gaza iii

The Post-
Post-war Reconstruction & Development Unit
Established in 1993, the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit (PRDU), based within the
University of York, UK, has pioneered the study of war-torn societies and their recovery. The
PRDU’s core staff reflects expertise related to peace processes, conflict analysis and
transformation, humanitarian intervention, civil-military cooperation, security sector reform, public
administration, shelter, programme development, research methodologies in conflict-affected
contexts, policy development and civil service capacity building, among other areas.

The PRDU provides three post-graduate programmes, including a Master’s and a PhD in Post-war
Recovery Studies, and PRDU staff members regularly engage in evaluation, training and strategic
advisory services around the world for major donors institutions and implementing agencies.
Recent projects have included a strategic conflict analysis of Afghanistan on behalf of the British
government and an in-depth study of reconstruction in South Lebanon following the 2006 “July
War” on behalf of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The Regional Human Security Centre

Established in 2000, the Regional Human Security Centre (RHSC) is a non-profit, independent
institution in Amman, Jordan that seeks to advance the human security agenda through applied
research, training, and the facilitation of dialogue around practical policy recommendations.
Geographically the RHSC focuses upon the Middle East and North Africa as well as upon
Afghanistan and Pakistan. Within this region the Centre examines issues pertaining to its four
research clusters: Armed Conflict, Forced Migration, Reconstruction, and State Sovereignty and
Civil Society.

In promoting this comprehensive human security agenda, the RHSC raises awareness among
academics, practitioners and policymakers through its practically-oriented research, through
region-wide forums, through trainings and, finally, through various forms of assistance to
governmental, non-governmental and scholarly institutions within the region and beyond.

About the Authors

PROFESSOR SULTAN BARAKAT, the Founding Director of the Post-war Reconstruction and
Development Unit (PRDU) at the University of York and a Senior Advisor to the Regional Human
Security Centre (RHSC) in Amman, has conducted research and advised governments and
international organisations in more than thirty post-conflict and conflict-affected countries. He
was closely involved in studying the post-Oslo Agreement reconstruction efforts, particularly
related to housing and disaster preparedness, in Palestine. He serves as a Senior Adviser to more
than a dozen major international organisations and is the editor of After the Conflict:
Reconstruction and Development in the Aftermath of War (IB Tauris, 2005) and Reconstructing
Post-Saddam Iraq (Routledge, 2008).

MR STEVEN A. ZYCK, a Research Fellow at the University of York’s PRDU, specialises in post-
conflict stabilisation, security sector reform and private-sector development. A former Fulbright
Scholar, he has worked for governments, think tanks, NGOs and universities in the United States,
United Kingdom, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and elsewhere.

MS JENNY HUNT, a Researcher at the University of York’s PRDU, is a specialist in post-conflict

recovery with dual focuses upon decision-making process and policy implementation. Her recent
research has concentrated on the reconstruction of Beirut’s southern suburbs since July 2006.

Reconstructing Gaza iv
Acronyms & Abbreviations

AHLC - Ad Hoc Liaison Committee

AMA - Agreement on Movement and Access
AMC - Directorate General for Aid Management and Coordination
CfP - Call for Proposals
CSIS - Centre for Strategic and International Studies
DFID - UK Department for International Development
EU - European Union
FDI - Foreign Direct Investment
GRTF - Gaza Reconstruction Trust Fund
ICG - International Crisis Group
IDF - Israeli Defence Forces
JLC - Joint Liaison Committee
LACC - Local Aid Coordination Committee
MDTF - Multi-Donor Trust Fund
MIGA - Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
MOF - Ministry of Finance
MOP - Ministry of Planning
MOPIC - Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation
NGO - Non-Governmental Organisation
OPIC - Overseas Private Investment Corporation
PA - Palestinian Authority
PAPF - Palestinian Expatriate Professional Fund
PCBS - Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
PECDAR - Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction
PEPF - Palestinian Expatriate Professional Fund
PFI - Palestinian Federation of Industries
PLC - Palestinian Legislative Council
PRDP - Palestinian Reform and Development Plan
SWG - Sectoral Working Group
TAP - Tripartite Action Plan
TATF - Technical Assistance Trust Fund
UN - United Nations
UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
UNRWA - United Nations Relief and Works Agency
UNSCO - Office of the UN Special Coordinator
US - United States
USAID - United States Agency for International Development
UXO - Unexploded Ordnance

Reconstructing Gaza v
Executive Summary
International calls for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip began just shortly after the recent
conflict erupted on 27 December, and, during the upcoming weeks, hundreds of millions of dollars
will be mobilised in support of Gaza’s rebuilding and recovery. This document provides guidance
for ensuring that those funds are spent effectively and that those involved build upon lessons
learned from previous reconstruction efforts in Gaza and elsewhere in the region. While it is
difficult at times to move beyond the scale of the suffering, both that preceding and resulting
from the recently ended conflict, the authors feel a document such as this is their best way of
contributing to both Gaza’s recovery and the prevention of a future reversion to violence.

The ‘Guidance Note’ begins by addressing the contextual features of contemporary Gaza which
will most heavily influence the reconstruction process before outlining a series of key lessons
learned and providing strategies and options.


Reconstruction must account for a context which has evolved dramatically and overwhelmingly
for the worse since 2005. In particular, the contextual features and developments described
below must be taken into consideration.

 Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 maintained many aspects of a de facto
occupation and resulted in curtailed freedom of movement for people, goods and finances,
thus resulting a severe economic downturn.
 The ascension of Hamas in Gaza since mid-2007 has resulted in near-complete border
closures with both Israel and Egypt, a substantial loss of international assistance for the
Strip and some donors’ abandonment of accountability systems established within the
Palestinian Authority (PA).
 Political as well as physical conflict between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah makes
governmental involvement challenging and laden with conflict-causing potential. Leadership
or “ownership” of the reconstruction process will be vigorously contested by Palestinian
factions as well as by members of the international community, with some attempting to
use the opportunity to strengthen Fatah’s role in Gaza.
 Service delivery and local governance by municipal officials has been substantially weakened
by factional disputes as well as by the loss of resources from international donors and tax
revenues collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the PA.
 Conflict and contested political control have contributed to an economic decline, with
unemployment rates greater than 50 percent and the decimation of private-sector activity.
 The economic decline, donors’ waning support for Gaza and Israeli restrictions on the import
of humanitarian supplies have led to skyrocketing rates of poverty, estimated by some
measures as higher than 70 percent (prior to this recently concluded conflict).
 Medical services and educational opportunities have withered, bringing hardship for Gaza’s
elderly (among others) as well as for the Territory’s exceptionally large youth population.
 These factors may all contribute to a lack of widely recognised governmental counterparts
for reconstruction, a dearth of Gazan or Palestinian private-sector partners, unpredictable
access to materials needed for reconstruction and delays in the relief-to-reconstruction

Reconstructing Gaza vi
Lessons Learned

A variety of lessons have been learned from, in particular, the post-Oslo Agreement
reconstruction effort. These pertain most notably to the governance, coordination and
administration of reconstruction rather than to sector-specific activities.

 Reconstruction and development in Gaza must be understood as benefiting Israel’s security

and as supporting renewed Palestinian unity, two outcomes critical for establishing peace.
 Donor conferences will be able to mobilise substantial assistance pledges, though these will
only be partially met by donors unless follow-up pressure is applied. Commitments are also
likely to fall off over time, as donor attention drifts elsewhere, unless tangible gains are seen
in reconstruction (or on related conditionalities).
 Coordination has been heavily politicised and overly complex, thus leading to a deficit of
actual, programmatic and policy-oriented collaboration and joint-planning. Past mistakes will
need to be addressed, and the coordination structure will require streamlining.
 The absorptive capacity of recipients is likely to be weak given damage resulting from
conflict, the loss of international financing and a past tendency to focus upon the importing
of short-term expertise form Palestinian expatriates. Rapid and intensive, rather than
mainstreamed, capacity development activities should be implemented from the outset.
 Donors’ post-June 2007 abandonment of Palestinian Authority (PA) aid management
bodies in the Ministry of Planning (MOP), in preference for the President’s Office, has
created an institutional vacuum and weakened accountability and anti-corruption efforts.
Such a development is unfortunate given the occurrence and perception of extensive
corruption among the PA and certain civil society actors.
 Israeli security concerns and impediments to reconstruction and development in Gaza have
historically complicated the process, and agreements to allow free access of materials have
routinely been violated. Approaches to prevent impediments to reconstruction, while
providing security assurances to Israel, must be developed.

Strategies & Options

A wide variety of recommendations are included in this report. The ‘foundational’ steps are
described below, though many more are offered throughout this guidance note.

 Needs, opportunities and constraints must be assessed by experts from the Palestinian
Authority and international and regional organisations and research centres. A separate
assessment of strengths and weaknesses evident in earlier rounds of reconstruction must
also be conducted by donors and other key stakeholders to learn from previous mistakes.
 An investigation of war crimes potentially committed by both sides during the recently
concluded conflict should be initiated in order to demonstrate respect for the law, for human
life and for the suffering experienced by, in particular, the Gazan population.
 Israeli influence upon the reconstruction process must be removed by developing and,
critically, enforcing a new agreement on movement and access. Given the past weaknesses
of such documents and the high likelihood of Israeli non-compliance, basing reconstruction
efforts in Rafah, Egypt and importing materials via Egypt and a to-be-rebuilt Gaza seaport
will help to avoid external impediments.
 Given the factional tensions and contested governance which exists in Gaza, a
representative body, the Gaza Reconstruction Commission, must be established to act as
the ultimate and quasi-public counterpart for international donors. This Commission, which
should involve representatives of all factions as well as key international actors such as the

Reconstructing Gaza vii

United Nations, should set the reconstruction agenda and provide overarching coordination
to the process.
 While the Commission would manage on-the-ground and technical matters, such as the
prioritisation of sectoral interventions, an international Reconstruction Chief should be
appointed by the United Nations to ensure donor compliance with best practices and to
tackle external impediments, such as border closures or excessive conditionalities.
 A Gaza Reconstruction Trust Fund, into which all donors would commit funds, should be
established in order to promote coordination, accountability and transparency. Major donors
should oversee and manage this multi-donor trust fund in collaboration with the Gaza
Reconstruction Commission.

These recommendations can allow reconstruction to begin as an inclusive partnership between

groups, countries and institutions which commonly perceive one another with mistrust and
suspicion. Doing so can contribute to the development of a lasting peace in the Palestinian
Territories as well as to enhanced regional cooperation.

Reconstructing Gaza viii

1. Introduction

The recently ceased, though not necessarily ended, conflict between Israel and Hamas resulted in
significant casualties, particularly on the Palestinian side. The Palestinian Central Bureau of
Statistics (PCBS) reports that 1,305 Palestinians have been killed and another 5,400 injured.1
Though figures have yet to be confirmed, it appears that 40 percent of those killed and half of
those injured have been women and children with many adult male victims also likely to have
been civilians.2 Three Israeli civilians were also killed during the conflict, as were 14 member of
the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Substantial damage to property and infrastructure also resulted.

TABLE 1. Damage, Level and Value, from the 22-

22-Day Conflict

Type of Damage Number Value (in million US$)

Housing Buildings (Destroyed) 4,100 200

Housing Buildings (Damaged) 17,000 82
Mosques 20 2.2
Education and Health Buildings 25 8.4
Security Headquarters 31 6.3
Ministry Compounds 1 25
Ministry Buildings 16 23.5
Bridges 2 3
Municipality and Local Authority Headquarters 5 2.3
Fuel Stations 4 2
Water and Wastewater Networks 10 2.4
Destroyed Ambulances and Civil Defence Vehicles 20 1.5
Electric Power Distribution Facilities 10 0.4
Road (in km) 50 2
Factories, shops and other commercial facilities 1500 19
Rubble removal - 600

Source: Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Damage Assessment, 19 Jan. 2009.

The current estimated value of all damage, including some not cited in the table above, is US$1.1
billion, thus necessitating a substantial investment in reconstruction.3 This need was recognised,
and international calls for the reconstruction of Gaza began, nearly two weeks before a ceasefire
had been announced by either Israel or Hamas. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated on 8
January that ‘we need to turn quickly to the process of rebuilding what has been destroyed in
the fighting’ and pledged financial support for this process.4 Two days earlier, US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice had told the UN Security Council that ‘the international community

1 Official figures provided by the PCBS, 19 Jan. 2009.

2 Prior to the end of the conflict, the BBC had reported that 391 of the 1,010 Palestinian deaths to that point, or 38.7
percent, had been women or children. Subsequent events do not draw this general statistical finding into question.
See BBC, ‘”More than 1,000 Killed in Gaza”’, BBC online, 14 Jan. 2009,
<> (15 Jan. 2009). While neither confirmed nor
confirmable, it should also be noted that Hamas claims to have lost 84 members during the conflict, thus implying
that more than 93 percent of all Palestinian fatalities occurred among civilians.
3 See note 1.
4 Ban Ki-moon, ‘Secretary-General's statement to the Security Council following the adoption of a resolution on Gaza’
(New York, 8 Jan. 2009), <> (10 Jan. 2009).

Reconstructing Gaza 1
should adopt an intensive reconstruction initiative, perhaps through a donors conference, that
would complement the efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza’.5

Such statements belie practical as well as political challenges for reconstruction. The Secretary-
General’s statement regarding re-building what has been destroyed suggests a continuation of
the sorts of scaled-up relief efforts the Territory has seen in the past, thus returning Gaza to its
protracted pre-December 2008 humanitarian crisis. With a more strategic agenda seemingly in
mind, the US Secretary of State’s comments reflect hopes in some corners that Gaza’s recovery
will allow the PA, and its Fatah controllers, to extend their reach into the Strip. In both
statements, which were among the first to tackle the question of reconstruction, it is apparent
that past mistakes and politics threaten to impede an effective reconstruction effort which takes
the wellbeing of the Gazan population as its primary if not sole objective.

This document attempts to address several of the practical as well as political impediments to
Gaza’s reconstruction in order to ensure that it helps to end the human tragedy which has
developed in the Strip since 2005 while contributing to genuine Palestinian unification and the
ultimate goal of peace in the region. The goal in doing so is to promote a technical, collaborative
process removed from the political arena. Such a process will allow Palestinian factions to
cooperate free from Israeli interference and will empower moderate, pro-unification elements by
developing, over the course of years rather than days, weeks or months, appropriate
infrastructure and at least a moderate level of economic growth. Nothing is more advantageous
to radicalism than desperation, and nothing is more soothing to the impoverished and immobile
than a cause and an enemy. While peace talks can provide an institutional framework, genuine
stabilisation is a long-term process which, nonetheless, must begin now.

As the reader will note, the authors overwhelmingly focus upon the process of reconstruction –
its governance, financing, coordination and implementation – rather than specific activities and
interventions. Such matters are best left to technical experts from the PA, the United Nations,
the World Bank, Palestinian civil society and international non-governmental organisations
(NGOs) rather than to political scientists. This document, following a description of the Gazan
context in relation to anticipated reconstruction efforts, attempts to present lessons learned
from, in particular, the post-Oslo recovery efforts of the mid-to-late-1990s. It concludes with a
series of recommendations which will strengthen the reconstruction process by, most notably,
helping to remove the influence of political interests and the historical impediments imposed by

5 Condoleezza Rice, ‘Remarks at the United Nations Security Council Session on the Situation in Gaza’ (New York, 6
Jan. 2009), <> (10 Jan. 2009).

Reconstructing Gaza 2
2. The Context of Reconstruction

The Gazan context has been shaped by the recently ended conflict as well as by the legacies of
Israeli containment, factional divisions between Palestinian political parties and the reductions in
international assistance which followed the events of June 2007. The most recent confrontation
with Israel took place amid a pre-existing humanitarian crisis with economic decline, a near-
cessation of formal private-sector activity and the erosion of basic social services. This section
aims to provide a brief overview of some of the significant contextual challenges facing the
reconstruction and recovery of the Gaza Strip.

2.1. A Brief Overview

The Gaza Strip occupies an area of 140 square miles wedged between Israel and Egypt along the
Mediterranean coast. Its population, estimated at 1.5 million, included just short of 480,000
registered refugees prior to this recent conflict according to the United Nation Relief and Works
Agency (UNRWA), which has been charged with the welfare of Palestinian refugees in eight
camps since 1949.6 Established in the armistice which concluded the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the
Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt until it was re-captured by Israel in 1967. Israel ceased its
nearly four-decade occupation, which included several conflicts and political developments too
numerous to explore here, with a unilateral withdrawal in 2005 in hopes of gaining security in
exchange for a portion of its control over the Territory. An accompanying 'Agreement on
Movement and Access' (AMA) signed by Israel and the PA sought to ensure that the Gazan
population would remain able to access the West Bank and freely engage in commercial
activities, though Israeli security concerns led to a clamping down on both movement and access.
A one-year review of the AMA by the United Nations concluded that 'the ability of Palestinian
residents of the Gaza Strip to access either the West Bank or the outside world remains
extremely limited and the flow of commercial trade is negligible'.7

A resulting decline in living standards coupled with widespread concerns about corruption among
the Fatah-dominated PA resulted in Hamas victories in Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
elections in early 2006. The United States and European Union, both of which consider Hamas a
terrorist group, condemned the election, and Israel further clamped down on access to Gaza. The
situation came to a head with the dissolution of the PLC by PA President Mahmoud Abbas,
reportedly under foreign pressure, in order to remove Hamas influence. Hamas rejected this
move and took control of Gaza and the PA institutions there in a short but intense factional
conflict.8 Since mid-2007, the Palestinian Territories have remained divided with Hamas
controlling Gaza and Fatah the West Bank, and small bouts of factional fighting have erupted
between Hamas and Fatah supporters since, including during this most recent conflict with

6 UNRWA, Gaza refugee camp profiles, <> (10 Jan. 2009).
7 UN-OCHA, Agreement on Movement and Access On Year On (Ramallah: United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Assistance, Nov. 2006), p. 1.
8 AMAN, Reconstruction National Integrity System Survey (Ramallah, AMAN Coalition for Integrity and Accountability,
9 ICG, Palestine Divided (Brussels, International Crisis Group, 17 Dec. 2008).

Reconstructing Gaza 3
On the humanitarian front, the rise of Hamas in Gaza drew a number of damaging responses
from external actors, particularly prolonged and near-total border closures by both Israel and
Egypt.10 Major international humanitarian donors such as the United States and European Union
ceased funding to the PA, and back-door approaches to aid financing through independent local
organisations proved inadequate.11 A resulting humanitarian crisis developed in the year and a
half prior to this most recent conflict, and the reconstruction process will have to address the
gradual decline of the Palestinian economy and general quality of life since 2005 and, in
particular, since 2007 in addition to the recent war damage.

2.2. Palestinian Politics

While, as stated in this report's introduction, the authors advocate a de-politicised approach to
reconstruction, achieving this goal requires an awareness of the complex political context in the
Palestinian Territories. The aforementioned intra-Palestinian fracture between Hamas and Fatah
has persisted with both sides doing "well enough" to maintain power.12

While the recently ended conflict was reportedly viewed as deserved comeuppance for Hamas by
select factions during the early days of Israeli attacks, the duration, intensity and destructiveness
of the Israeli military action has turned its Palestinian (and broader Arab) opponents into its
sympathizers if not necessarily its allies. The reconstruction process will, however, require not just
sentiments but on-the-ground leadership, an issue which will flash-freeze the current warm
feelings which have developed between the factions.13

The office of President Mahmoud Abbas has been the preferred route for, at least, the United
States in providing financial assistance to the PA since June 2007. The Bush-led US government
had stated its intention to continue doing so during the reconstruction of Gaza, though the
upcoming change in American leadership may bring related policy changes. Doing so risks
cementing perceptions that Fatah was complicit in the Israeli attacks and would result in
deserved accusations of opportunism. Supporting such a conclusion, the New York Times recently
argued that 'nobody here seems to believe the Abbas-led [Palestinian A]uthority would be in any
position to fill the vacuum right now, especially because the [PA] would be perceived in Gaza as
having ridden in on a proverbial Israeli tank'.14

Yet with many major donors, including some from US-friendly Gulf States, only willing to provide
assistance through the PA (and disallowing any Hamas involvement in the use of those funds), it
appears as if certain donor countries will, seemingly with full awareness of the consequences,
facilitate renewed factional tensions. The situation only becomes complicated by substantial
anticipated Iranian and Syrian funding for Hamas-led reconstruction efforts. A proxy donor battle
over support, as had been seen in southern Lebanon since 2006, will put factions into conflict
with one another and obliterate all hopes for effective, centralised planning and coordination. The
upside, of course, will be the a politically-driven deluge of financing not seen since US-USSR

10 World Bank, Palestinian Economic Prospects: Aid, Access and Reform: Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hic
Liaison Committee (Washington, DC, World Bank, 22 Sept. 2008).
11 ICG, Palestine Divided.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid., p. 8.
14 Isabel Kershner, ‘War on Hamas Saps Palestinian Leaders’, New York Times (15 Jan. 2009).

Reconstructing Gaza 4
competition in the developing world, though it will come at the cost of Palestinian security and

2.3. Civil Administration

In addition to the challenges posed by factional disharmony, basic infrastructure for public
administration and service-delivery has eroded or been destroyed. Even before the conflict
began, the ability to providing public services had all but collapsed. Municipal services such as the
provision of potable water, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal were largely cut
following the post-2005 economic decline, thus resulting in increased health risks.15 Other
services are also believed to have atrophied due to the withholding of Israeli-collected tax
revenues and PA-mediated international assistance since 2007.16

The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported on 7 January that any authority’s ‘ability to govern
[has been] all but destroyed’ by strikes against its infrastructure and personnel.17 The PA has
suffered considerable blows as well with the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, finance, public
works, justice, education, labour and culture having been demolished alongside the presidential
compound the prime minister’s office, the parliament building and every police installation.18 This
destruction of premises and, presumably, much of the information and documentation included
therein will complicate informed, data-based planning and make it difficult for remaining officials
to carry out their duties.

2.4. The Economy

Gaza currently suffers not only from economic decline but from what could only be termed
economic collapse. Agricultural output and industrial productivity have been declining since the
mid-1990s. Agricultural output declined by 19 percent the decade leading up to 2006.19
According to the Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI), all but 23 of Gaza’s 3,900 industrial
enterprises have closed or become inactive, though such figures may be shaded by political
concerns.20 Unemployment, which has become one of the few trans-generational inheritances,
rose from only approximately 10 percent in 1999 to 38 percent in 2005.21 Following the Israeli
withdrawal in 2005 and the subsequent tightening of border crossings, which has limited
opportunities for Gazans to work in Israel and which has hindered commercial activity,
unemployment rose by 12 percent, to half, in 2006. 22 Even this meagre level of employment was
sustained primarily by the constant invention of public-sector jobs, with the government
eventually employing up to 45 percent of the Palestinian working population.23 Subsequent
estimates, which may be subject to political and humanitarian motives, have been even higher.
Compounding the skyrocketing unemployment, monthly wage income had been reduced by 37.4

15 World Bank, Palestinian Economic Prospects, p. 7.

16 Beverley Milton-Edwards, 'Hamas: Victory with Ballots and Bullets', Global Change, Peace and Security vol. 19, no. 3
(2007), pp. 301-316.
17 Jonathan Freeland, ‘Gaza after a Hamas rout will be an even greater threat to Israel’, The Guardian (7 Jan. 2009).
18 ICG, Ending the War in Gaza (Brussels, International Crisis Group, 5 Jan. 2009), p. 7.
19 Mahmoud K. Okasha, ‘The Gaza Economy: Current Status and Future Prospects’, Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics,
Economics & Culture vol. 14, no. 3 (2007), p. 29.
20 World Bank, Palestinian Economic Prospects, p. 7.
21 Ministry of National Economy, Gaza Strip Economic Development Strategy (Ramallah, MoNE, 2005), p. 3.
22 Ibid.
23 Okasha, ‘The Gaza Economy: Current Status and Future Prospects’, p. 30.

Reconstructing Gaza 5
percent between 2000 and 2007, and 71 percent of public-sector employees made wages which
put them below the poverty line.24

Following the recently ended war with Israel, unemployment will likely be far higher and near
universal for several months until aid funding generates jobs among civil society, public agencies
and the construction industry. The ongoing conflict has worsened long-term economic prospects
for Gaza, already approaching nil, by destroying infrastructure and revealing once again the
pervasive insecurity and uncertainty in the Territory. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is, thus, likely
to keep its distance in the short- to mid-term.25

Investments in economic development during the reconstruction-to-development transition will

further provide opportunities for agriculture and small business, in particular, though donors have
historically shown little willingness to invest these sectors across the Palestinian Territories.
Economic or private-sector development is not tracked as a specific category by the MOP’s
Directorate General for Aid Management and Coordination (AMC), though related sectors
received only eight-tenths of one percent of all assistance to the Palestinian Territories for

2.5. The Human Costs

Conflict and economic decline have had massive human costs. A recent report released by eight
international NGOs demonstrated that 1.1 million of Gaza’s population of 1.5 million are dependent
on food aid and that between June and September 2007, largely as a result of the Israeli and
Egyptian isolation of Gaza, the number of households earning less than US$1.20 per day ‘soared
from 55% to 70%’.27 The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicates that 84.6
percent of the population is below the poverty line, and the World Bank reports that 69.9
percent would be below the ‘deep poverty line’ if not for remittances and international
assistance. While, prior to June 2007, relief operations managed to keep consumption poverty to
below a third, this number has certainly risen in the past year and a half alongside malnutrition
and food insecurity as a result of conflict, Israeli border closures, the decline of public-sector
employment and wages and the 28 percent rise in the price of basic foodstuffs between 2007
and 2008.

This situation has been made far worse due to conflict. In addition to the more than 1,100 people
killed during the fighting, at least four thousand were injured, including many who may ultimately
die as a result of their injuries. An uncertain number of others, particularly the elderly, have
suffered due to a lack of basic medical care, which had already been reduced to near-nothing
outside of UNRWA camps due to Israeli-imposed power cuts and the inability to import needed

24 Ibid.
25 Ibid.
26 Information calculated from the AMC database (PAMS), 9 Jan. 2008. The total estimated spending on economic
development comes to US$18 million out of total donor disbursements of US$2.2 billion. This figure includes spending
on banking, financial services, business, agriculture, fishing, industry, mineral resources, trade policy, construction and
tourism. Other funding for economic development activities may have been provided but was not categorized as such
by the MOP.
27 Amnesty International, Christian Aid, CAFOD, CARE, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children UK and
Trocaire, The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion (2008), p. 7.

Reconstructing Gaza 6
medicines or supplies.28 The number of disabled is set to increase from its already high level
estimated at between 7 and 10 percent by Handicap International.29 Children have gone without
schooling since the conflict began and many more will not have resumed access to education for
several months, thus adding to the long-coming decline in primary and secondary school
enrolment, from 96.8 to at most 91.2 percent, since 2001.30 Pre-conflict school attendance rates,
it must be noted, are only part of the story given that a lack of funding and electricity resulted in
shortened school days and highly restrictive offerings.31 Gaza’s young population, over half of it
being below the age of 17, will suffer from the loss of educational opportunities, just as they have
suffered from psychological damage.32 Such features not only affect individuals’ wellbeing but
also result in vastly lowered economic productivity, in added burdens on social service systems
and to heightened potential for conflict. Psychosocial trauma has been linked to the trans-
generational transfer of ethno-centrism, for instance, in the Balkans and may contribute to a
prolonged cycle of animosity and violence in the Middle East.33

2.6. Relation to Reconstruction

This section analyses a selection of the most critical challenges that the aforementioned
contextual features will pose to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The following is by no
means exhaustive and primarily focuses upon overarching issues which are already evident and
which must be considered in the assessment of needs and planning and implementation of

 A Lack of Commonly Recognised Governmental Counterparts. Best practice

reviews commonly cite the importance of involving recipient governments in the distribution
of assistance. The classification of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, however, by many
major donors means that providing assistance to the existing power-holders in Hamas will
be difficult for “traditional” bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors. This situation is compounded,
for those donors inclined to working with and through Hamas, by the destruction of the
organisation’s infrastructure and erosion of its leadership. Political and security concerns are
likely to dominate Hamas’s agenda in the short term. The PA, while increasingly capable due
to interventions from the UN, World Bank, European Union and others, is mistrusted by
Hamas and by many in the Gaza Strip who view its Fatah leadership, at best, as an indirect

28 Ibid., p. 10. Both the Gaza-wide power supply and the backup generators employed by many hospitals (as well as
schools, businesses and homes) are hindered by the insufficient supply of EU-supplied diesel fuel, which Israel has
capped at 2.2 million liters per week.
29 Handicap International, Palestinian Territories (website), <>
(12 Jan. 2009).
30 UNICEF, Gaza blockade threatens educational crisis (New York, UNICEF, 2007),
<> (8 Jan. 2009).
31 Amnesty International et al., The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion, p. 12.
32 Gazan residents, prior to this most recent bout of violence, had demonstrated some of the highest levels of
psychosocial trauma of any population in the world. World Vision recently reported that 16 percent of Gazan children
(ages 5-15) suffer nightmares primarily due to fear, and rigorous psychological studies have shown high levels of
post-traumatic stress disorder (68.9 percent), moderate to severe depression (40.0 percent) and severe anxiety
(94.9 percent). See: World Vision, e-mail updated on the situation in Gaza, 8 Jan 2009; Salman Elbedour, Anthony J.
Onwuegbuzie, Jess Ghannam, Janine A. Whitcome and Fadel Abu Hein, ‘Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression
and anxiety among Gaza Strip adolescents in the wake of the second Uprising (Intifada)’, Child Abuse and Neglect vol.
31 (2007), pp. 719-729; A. Thabet, A. Abu Tawahina, E. El Sarraj, A. Salloum and P. Vostanis, ‘The effect of political
violence on the mental health of children in the Gaza Strip’ (Feb. 2008), pp. 1-26.
33 B. Weyermann, Overcoming fragmentation: Links between income generation and psychosocial counseling in Gaza’,
Critical Half, Summer (2006), pp. 35-39; A. Garrod, S. Zyck, C. Beal, J. Cross, K. Szilagyi and H. Burzynski, Sociomoral
development and moral orientation among Bosnian and American children (unpublished paper, Dartmouth College,
NH, 2004).

Reconstructing Gaza 7
beneficiary of the recent Israeli attacks. Providing it with a substantial role in the
reconstruction process will contribute to the perception that Fatah intends to take
advantage of the recently ended conflict and raise tensions to such an extent that internal,
factional conflict becomes a palpable concern.

Municipal counterparts, who may constitute the best hope for initial governmental
engagement, have experienced reductions in operations and capacity due to the destruction
of their infrastructure and equipment and as a result the fall off in revenue collection since

 A Lack of Private-Sector Partners. The economic decline within Gaza since 2005 has
led to the closure or withdrawal of many private-sector firms. While the private sector has
the capacity to reconstitute itself quickly in order to apply for tenders for, in particular,
infrastructure activities, its present weakness in Gaza raises two primary concerns. First,
firms which will be most likely to enter into the Gazan context following the conflict will
primarily be external, whether multi-national or owned by members of the Palestinian
Diaspora based outside of the Gaza Strip or Palestinian Territories. As such, much of the
profits generated through infrastructure rehabilitation may leave the country, though
employment will certainly be generated in the short term. Second, firms entering quickly into
Gaza may lack existing staff members, and the time required to mobilise and train staff may
result in delays or results of questionable quality. As in all post-conflict context, these firms
will include the reputable as well as the profiteering, and substantial amounts of money may
be lost through a chain of sub-contractors as firms with limited on-the-ground
implementation capacity devolve responsibility to local companies with non-existent or
minimal track records.

 Unpredictable Access to Necessary Materials, Personnel and Finances. As in

the relief operations which took place during hostilities, access to necessary materials for
reconstruction will be subject to Israeli security concerns and the closure of border
crossings. Delays in the arrival of materials will defer progress on reconstruction, and, as a
result, inflation will reduce the effectiveness of aid provided. Alternative delivery routes are
less attractive. Gaza’s already decrepit seaport and airport cannot sustain large-scale
deliveries, the former being controlled by Israel. Israel’s targeting of these facilities during the
conflict has rendered them unviable supply routes during the initial phase of reconstruction.
Imports through Egypt are possible, though border crossings between Gaza and the Sinai
have also been subject to persistent closure and experienced intense attacks by Israel. Only
a minute percentage of Gaza’s licit imports arrive via Egypt, though smuggling of
humanitarian materials, then to be sold at a significant mark up to those firms and
organisations engaged in reconstruction, is possible if not likely.

 Delays in the Relief-to-Reconstruction Transition. The dire needs of the Gazan

population for basic services, particularly health and education, coupled with a legacy of aid
dependency may lead to a protracted period of humanitarian relief. The fact that two
previous rounds of reconstruction have taken place may lead actors to question the need
for a large-scale reconstruction intervention. Further delays are likely to occur given the
challenge of “handing over” interventions to governmental authorities in a context of
contested governance. NGOs and humanitarian agencies may, thus, hesitate to begin

Reconstructing Gaza 8
engaging in reconstruction activities predicated on a sustainable peace and a stable
politico-institutional environment.


These factors will impede the reconstruction and development process and will contribute to the
sorts of challenges, addressed in the following section, which have historically impeded
reconstruction from being implemented in a highly effective manner.

Reconstructing Gaza 9
3. Lessons Learned

Gaza has most notably undergone reconstruction following the 1993 Oslo Agreement and prior
to the 2000 Second Intifada. This time period provides a number of lessons learned for the post-
conflict reconstruction process, and this section will primarily focus upon issues of governance,
management, financing, coordination and de-politicisation.

3.1. Donor Conferences

Donor conferences such as the one which launched the post-Oslo Agreement phase of
reconstruction and the more recent Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) are
invaluable in attracting assistance. The first post-Oslo resulted in more than US$2 billion in
pledges while the more recent conference, in 2007, drew almost three times as much, at US$7.7
billion. Pledges made at such conferences, frequently of greater symbolic than financial value,
will rarely be completely fulfilled, thus creating problems for planning and for managing public
expectations. Mechanisms to track donor pledges, commitments and disbursements is critical in
ensuring that, to the degree possible, pledges are fulfilled. This mechanism must be empowered
to publicly pressure donors into delivering promised assistance. While the MOP may presently
have the infrastructure in place to do so, it is not an ideal advocate for the fulfilment of pledges
given its financial interest in remaining on good terms with major donors.

3.2. Timing of Assistance

A second risk related to financing is that assistance will be provided early on in the
reconstruction process but quickly fall off once international attention has shifted to the next
global hot spot or once inflated initial expectations are confronted with the realities of
implementation. In the Palestinian Territories, for instance, the amounts committed by donors fell
by 15 percent between 1994, shortly after Oslo, and 1998, and the amounts of annual committed
funds actually disbursed during that time period fell from almost 70 percent to only 50.34

In order to confront this challenge, multi-donor trust funds (MDTFs) have become one of donors’
preferred aid modalities. Best practices dictate that funds in a trust fund are deposited in
advance for use once needs have been identified and absorptive capacity has been developed.
While frequently subverted in reality, particularly in contemporary Iraq, by short timeframes and
limited recipient ownership, MDTFs provide one option to ensure optimal timing of assistance.
They must, however, be untied from disbursement deadlines, donor conditionalities and
bureaucratic procedures for accessing funds in order to be most effective.

3.3. Elite Pacts

The international community has time and time again witnessed the unintended negative
consequences of failing to including all stakeholders due to political motives. In Iraq, disbanding
the Ba’ath Party is widely credited with precipitating widespread chaos and insecurity given that

34 MOPIC, Fourth Quarrterly Monitoring Report of Donor Assistance, 1997 (Ramallah, Ministry of Planning and
International Cooperation, 31 Dec. 1997); MOPIC, First and Second Quarterly Monitoring Report of Donor Assistance
(Ramallah, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, 30 June 1999).

Reconstructing Gaza 10
the most skilled technocrats, even those without the Party’s ideology, had possessed critical skills
necessary for civil administration and policing. In Afghanistan, failing to include the Taliban early
on has resulted not in its decimation, as intended, but in its resurgence. Now, seven years later,
the international community is beginning to recognise this error and take steps towards engaging
with the Taliban. Of greatest relevance, however, is the attempt to exclude Hezbollah from the
reconstruction of southern Lebanon following the 2006 “July War”. Rather than being recognised
as a key stakeholder, formal, state-led reconstruction efforts ignored the non-state entity.
Hezbollah and its implementing partners, forced into a parallel reconstruction effort with funding
primarily from Iran, proved far more effective than the internationally-supported, central-
government-led process and exacerbated tensions between the South and the centre. Within the
scope of housing assistance, 47 percent of the population came to see Hezbollah-associated
NGOs more favourably (and only 19 percent less favourably) while a majority of the population in
the South (57 percent) came to see the central government less favourably for its involvement
(and only 4 percent more).35

The evident conclusion is that the presence of an “unofficial” reconstruction process led by a
locally favoured but internationally marginalised group (and one with international financial
support) will foster unhelpful competition. Given the flexibility and, in most cases, cash-based
nature of the “informal” or better termed “unsanctioned” reconstruction process, the
internationally marginalised group will gain far more local support; the formal process, in contrast,
will appear weak, thus helping to discredit many of those institutions involved in it. Any goal of
strengthening the state, whether the central government in Lebanon or a Fatah-controlled PA,
will not only be neutralised but, in fact, thrown decisively into reverse. A far better solution, both
from the perspective of coordination and public diplomacy, is a single process which involves all
stakeholders and prevents competing reconstruction efforts.

3.4. Coordination

Two critical challenges for coordination lie at the extremes, its lack and its over-abundance.
According to past experience, the latter issue has been far more relevant to reconstruction in the
Palestinian Territories. The number of coordination meetings and bodies meant that information
sharing and planning was overly decentralised, thus inhibiting local and international
organisations from collaborating and reducing the potential for multi-sectoral interventions.

During reconstruction efforts in the 1990s, for instance, the following coordination bodies were in
operation: the Joint Liaison Committee (JLC) and its Task Force on Project Implementation, the
Consultative Group, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), the Office of the United Nations
Special Coordinator in the Occupied Territories (UNSCO), the Local Aid Coordination Committee
(LACC), five multi-lateral working groups and 19 sectoral working groups (SWGs) or sub-sectoral
working groups.36 An additional level of coordination was attempted by two governmental bodies,
the Ministry for Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC) and the Palestinian Economic
Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), which were frequently competing.37

35 Sultan Barakat and Steven A. Zyck with Jenny Hunt, Housing Compensation and Disaster Preparedness in the
Aftermath of the July 2006 War in South Lebanon (York and Beirut, Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit,
on behalf of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Dec. 2008), p. 36.
36 Rex Brynen, A Very Political Economy: Peacebuilding and Foreign Aid in the West Bank and Gaza (Washington, DC,
United States Institute of Peace Press, 2000), p. 88.
37 Ibid., p. 135.

Reconstructing Gaza 11
These 32 formal coordination mechanisms were further undercut by political interests, with
various coordination bodies and international actors attempting to gain overarching leadership of
the reconstruction process.

While the AHLC proved somewhat effective in coordinating major donors, the Consultative Group
proved too large and overly politicised to yield effective results. The JLC was considered
relatively more effective in bringing multiple stakeholders together, and the LACC managed to
provide a forum for local NGOs. That said, few opportunities for coordination and information-
sharing between donors and implementers, particularly local NGOs, were established. Political and
strategic interests of particular donors were found to colour coordination events and to reduce
attention to key technical concerns. Such issues found their greatest voice in the SWGs and their
sub-groups, though the sheer number of sector and sub-sector-specific meetings proved labour
intensive. Donor entities, as elsewhere in the world, were reported to have used coordination
meetings more as opportunities for public diplomacy, sharing past accomplishments and
disbursement figures, rather than engaging in practical planning or seeking feedback on future
strategies and activities.

Such concerns regarding coordination should be addressed, and the coordination architecture
must be simplified. The goal of establishing any single, leading coordination body charged with
developing an overall plan for reconstruction is attractive but not feasible. Donors such as Syria
and Iran will likely engage with Hamas, while the United States and potentially the European
Union will work through the President’s Office of the PA. Others will focus upon MOP, PECDAR,
the World Bank or the United Nations for ultimate authority and coordination. Given the extent of
elite competition and politicisation, efforts at coordination should be focused upon the sectoral
level and between implementing agencies, and a lead donor will need to emerge in order to
ensure that low-level coordination is provided with sufficient resources to be effective.

3.5. Recipient Capacity

Post-conflict reconstruction requires local partners with whom institutions and capacities may be
developed in order to allow international actors to hand over responsibilities and activities. The
Palestinian Territories have, however, historically lacked the requisite capacity to serve as
suitable partners during previous reconstruction attempts, and the international community had
tended to marginalise capacity development. This situation mirrors a common one in post-conflict
and developing contexts whereby limited recipient capacity is used as a justification for
bypassing, in particular, public institutions. The resulting lack of public-sector or local involvement
in reconstruction and development, thus, enshrines the lack of capacity and allows external firms
and international NGOs to “capture” technical assistance, accountability and service delivery
functions. In places such as Afghanistan, the substitution of international NGOs for core
governmental functions has persisted and remains more than seven years after the start of the

Since 1994, the World Bank has operated a Technical Assistance Trust Fund (TATF) in the
Palestinian Territories which has made some gains. However, much of the technical assistance
delivered has not come through capacity-development activities but through capacity-
compensation activities such as UNDP’s TOKTEN programme and the World Bank’s Palestinian
Expatriate Professional Fund (PEPF). Both interventions brought members of the Diaspora to

Reconstructing Gaza 12
Gaza and the West Bank in order to provide-short-term technical assistance. While such
programmes doubtless resulted in some capacity gains, population movements, the changing
intra-PA arrangements for managing aid and the current division between the West Bank and
Gaza makes it unclear to what extent such capacity will be available to the upcoming
reconstruction effort.

More recently, the establishment of the PRDP for 2008-10, which includes a wide-ranging
approach to capacity development at multiple levels of government and with regard to security,
border control, enterprise development, public financial management and other sectors, bodes
well.38 Yet, the remaining control of Gaza by Hamas and the need to engage in substantial
humanitarian and reconstruction operations means that the West Bank may benefit far more
from the US$7.7 billion pledged for the World Bank-administered PRDP Trust Fund.

Yet, this recent blossoming of attention to institutional reform and capacity development in the
Palestinian Territories may be wisely shifted towards Gaza. Given the limited ability of Gaza to
participate in the pre-existing development plans, there exists a genuine possibility that the two
Territories may grow further apart with regard to economic growth, employment, poverty, civil
administration and governance. While the theory that development in one part of a country will
inspire the remainder to follow suit, this has rarely if ever been the case. The development of
urban centres in places such as Afghanistan and Yemen, with Soviet support, had historically
entrenched socio-cultural and political differences with the rural periphery, thus resulting in
various strains of civil conflict and the creation of “enclave states”. The Palestinian Territories
may not mirror such outcomes, but it remains evident that uneven growth will only harm
Palestinian unity and hopes for a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

3.6. Accountability, Transparency & Integrity

Ensuring accountability and transparency within the reconstruction process will be critical.
Perceptions of high rates of corruption among certain Palestinian factions and the PA was one
of the central issues which motivated Hamas’s electoral landslide in 2006, and lack of
transparency among the PA and others in the Territories has long remained a concern for
international donors.39 Both Israelis and Palestinians have been implicated in corruption, with the
pre-Oslo imposition of regulations by Israel having created opportunities for Israeli officials to
impose unofficial and illegal fees and taxes. Since the mid-1990s, however, the profile of
corruption in the Territories has changed, with the PA providing tax cuts, contracts and public
positions on the basis of nepotism or bribery. In other cases, regulatory regimes appear to have
been used to provide monopolies to companies which benefit PA officials. “Petty corruption” has
also been reported as well as the pervasive influence of wasta, the obtainment of advancement
through personal or familial connections.40 A tendency to view corruption as “integrative” or as
part of a cultural system has allowed it flourish in other post-conflict contexts. Doing so in Gaza
would be a mistake, particularly given that the wasta system, in particular, is a key concern

38 Palestinian National Authority, Building a Palestinian State: Towards peace and prosperity (Paris and Ramallah,
2007), 17 Dec.
39 Khalil Shikaki, Shikaki: Since Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza, Palestinians Now Give Top Priority to Improving Living
Standards, Not End to Occupation (New York, Council on Foreign Relations),
<> (13 Jan. 2009). This document refers to Hama’s ‘reputation of
incorruptibility’ as the backbone of its popularity in Gaza as well as in the West Bank.
40 AMAN, Reconstruction National Integrity System Survey, p. 25.

Reconstructing Gaza 13
among the unemployed in the Territories. International organisations may find themselves rapidly
discredited in their rush to expand in or near Gaza if their recruitment process is seen to be
driven by factors other than merit.

Numerous reforms implemented in the post-Arafat period have helped to tackle corruption. The
centralisation of all data regarding development contributions in 2003 and 2004 helped to
provide a greater degree of transparency while laws addressing taxation, customs, procurement
and ‘illegal earnings’ have ensured a more appropriate legal framework.41 Still, public funding for
private projects and the lack of donor coordination in tracking funds – thus enabling NGOs to
charge two donors for a single set of activities, as in the LAW case42 – are highlighted by the
AMAN Coalition for Integrity and Accountability, a Transparency International partner, as
remaining weak points in the fight against corruption.

Despite the level of corruption, the critical lesson learned is not necessarily to mandate stricter
reporting requirements and auditing procedures early in the reconstruction process. The decision
to do so since 2002 has resulted in added expenses and, at the request of some donors, the
hiring of costly expatriate personnel. Others appear to have lost financing completely. A more
appropriate lesson learned is that corruption must be controlled but that doing so is best done by
gradually introducing requirements as well as the administrative capacities necessary to meet
them. Coupled with high-profile prosecutions of offenders and the involvement of trusted leaders
in denouncing misappropriation of all forms, corruption can be better controlled at the
institutional and individual levels.

3.7. Israel

The deeply rooted animosity which exists between Israel and the Palestinian populations has
frequently made the existing interdependency with regard to reconstruction activities a source of
friction. Israeli security concerns will, in such cases, predominate, frequently sacrificing Palestinian
development and wellbeing in the process. At other times, as with the unwillingness to provide
telephone lines to PECDAR in 1994, Israeli impediments seem less oriented around security than
around imposing under-development upon the Palestinians.43 No amount of money, coordination
or Palestinian capacity will be able to overcome these impediments. The Tripartite Action Plan
(TAP), signed by Israel, Norway and the PA, sought a number of goals, including Israeli
cooperation in facilitating the transport of good between the West Bank and Gaza and from the
Territories to international markets.44 Israeli border closures, based on security concerns,
persisted, and the US State Department refused to pressure Israel to fulfil its commitments under
the TAP despite requests from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and various
European and multi-lateral stakeholders.45 The same story can be repeated with startling little
variation following the 2005 Agreement on Access and Movement (AMA) signed between the
Palestinian Authority and Israel.

41 AMAN, Reconstruction Survey, p. 25.

42 In this case, it appears that a major human rights organization in the Palestinian Territories, LAW, received funding
from several donors for a single set of outputs proposed to each. The organization was, essentially, paid several times
for the same work. See AMAN, Reconstruction Survey, p. 27.
43 Brynen, A Very Political Economy, p. 128.
44 Ibid., pp. 107-108.
45 Ibid., p. 125.

Reconstructing Gaza 14
Regardless of the limited success of the TAP and AMA, it remains evident that Israeli facilitation
(or at least non-interference) will be beneficial and in some ways necessary for reconstruction in
Gaza. Without engaging Israel in negotiations and gaining their support for an agreement such as
the AMA, there will be little statutory justification for pressure to open borders and facilitate
reconstruction and development. The arrival of a new US presidential administration may also
mean that, once signed, the American government may be more inclined to pressuring Israel into
meeting its commitments to the Palestinians and to the international community.


The reconstruction of Gaza must take into account the sorts of lessons examined above. The
process must, in sum, adapt to competing forces such the international and regional tensions and
the need for a unified approach or the duel imperatives for the involvement of potentially weak
local partners and rigorous accountability. Doing so will be challenging and will require that those
individuals and institutions involved temporarily detach themselves from parochial and symbolic
politics or, put another way, begin to recognise that their political interests are best served
through the suppression of those very same interests. A variety of strategies and options for de-
politicising reconstruction and for ensuring an effective process are offered in the following
section of this Guidance Note.

Reconstructing Gaza 15
4. Strategies & Options

A number of strategies and options can be identified based upon previous attempts at
reconstruction in Gaza and also upon international best practices. The most important
recommendation, however, is to avoid simply rushing in and beginning reconstruction out of a
desire to be seen as “doing something”. The process must be front-loaded with assessments and
studies to ensure that reconstruction addresses the greatest needs and mitigates, rather than
exacerbates, conflict-causing tensions. Primary among these must be a multi-stakeholder study
of lessons learned which results in a major conference or workshop to plan the next phase of
reconstruction. This study and concluding workshop should bring together Palestinian officials
and civil society representatives, leaders of international organisations, donors and experts from
academia to review past successes and failures with regard to reconstruction and development.
Participants in the final conference should not only discuss best practices but also commit to a
series of principles and guidelines which each will reflect as the reconstruction moves forward
this next, and hopefully last, time.

Such an approach, the authors believe, should note the need not just to rebuild ‘what has been
destroyed in the fighting’, as the UN Secretary-General has proposed.46 Doing so will enshrine the
humanitarian emergency that has persisted in Gaza for decades and re-create sorts of
conditions which have led to violence and the radicalisation of portions of the population. With
the attention and resources likely to be dedicated to reconstruction, the international community
and Palestinian stakeholders should aim to short-cut the Territory’s development and aim to
establish an area which is viably connected to international markets in order to achieve
substantial viability.

4.1. Foundational Recommendations

The following recommendations are viewed as being foundational. Their implementation, though
perhaps with slight modifications, is necessary (though not sufficient) for the success of the
reconstruction process.

Launch an Investigation of War Crimes. The preceding conflict and particular attacks
included within it may constitute war crimes. These must be investigated in order to allow, in
particular, the Palestinian people to feel that their suffering has been recognised, though Hamas
would also certainly be subject to accusations that its rocket attacks did not meet international
standards of “discrimination”.47 Without receiving a sense that some semblance of justice will be
applied to their plight, it will be difficult to gain substantial Palestinian involvement in the
reconstruction process. A war crimes investigation will create a psychological space whereby the
Gazan population can begin to move forward. The same lesson has held true for populations in
places such as South Africa, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

46 Ki-moon, ‘Secretary-General's statement’.

47 By “discrimination” we refer to the fact that many Hamas attacks, particularly its firing of rockets into Israel, failed to
specifically target military installations and had a far greater likelihood of resulting in civilian instead of military
fatalities. Attention to such matters should not, however, draw attention away from similar accusation, on a much
larger scale, against Israel.

Reconstructing Gaza 16
Remove Israel from the Equation to the Degree Possible. Aside from the challenges
posed by having a population’s war-time enemies mediate its reconstruction, there are several
historical concerns which speak to the need to limit Israeli involvement in Gaza’s reconstruction.
Agreements on movement and access, in which Israel has pledged to allow free movement of
humanitarian supplies, have routinely failed to produce their desired outcomes. Power cuts,
significant delays in importing urgently needed materials and other impediments have hindered
reconstruction and development in Gaza and the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo Agreement, and
they must not be allowed to do so again. Instead, humanitarian materials must be imported via
two routes, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. While both the Egyptian border and Gaza seaport
were heavily bombarded during the recent conflict, they must be quickly rebuilt and used, under
international supervision, to allow for the importing of reconstruction materials. Monitors and
rigorous inspection regimes may be used in order to allay Israeli security concerns.

Base All Reconstruction Activities in Rafah, Egypt. The massive influx of humanitarian
organisations attempting to assist the Gazan population should establish a base of operations in
Rafah, an Egyptian city along the border with Gaza. Doing so will help to increase the transit of
needed supplies and will provide, in the long-term, a neutral base from which to provide medical
care and humanitarian assistance in the event of a future crisis. Attempting “remote”
reconstruction from a site such as Amman, as has been done in the case of Iraq, will reduce the
effectiveness of reconstruction and leave humanitarian activities vulnerable to border closures in
the event of future crises. A maintained presence must be established.

Establish a Representative Commission to Guide Reconstruction. With the

fragmentation and factionalisation of the Palestinian Authority, with a history of competition
between donor institutions and with international concerns regarding terrorism likely to taint
reconstruction, the process must be depoliticised to the degree possible. Despite being far more
administratively developed and having better relations with Israel, Fatah would not be likely to
‘win support through aid’ as Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International
Studies (CSIS) has suggested.48 A commission including representatives of all major Palestinian
political groups, including independents, alongside individuals from the United Nations and other
major humanitarian organisations should provide ultimate direction to the process. Members
nominated for inclusion should be competent in necessary fields and prepared to focus upon
technical rather than political issues. This body, potentially named the Gaza Reconstruction
Commission, should be recognised as the sole arbiter of reconstruction priorities. In the process,
it will not only lead to a better coordinated and locally appropriate process but also contribute to
Palestinian political unification, a necessary step for peace talks to move forward.

Appoint a Reconstruction Chief. International actors involved in the reconstruction process

will require an equal degree of coordination and direction to avoid overlap and cross-purposes. A
Gaza Reconstruction Chief should be appointed to facilitate the work of the Gaza Reconstruction
Commission, to advocate for the alignment of donor activities and to block external impediments
to the reconstruction process. While involved in the Commission, this individual will primarily focus
upon external actors and, as such, should be an international leader with substantial experience
with mediation and reconstruction. Lord Paddy Ashdown, an effective and strong-willed leader of

48 Anthony H. Cordesman., The Fighting in Gaza: How Does It End? (And, Will It?) (Washington, DC, Centre for Strategic
and International Studies), p. 4.

Reconstructing Gaza 17
Bosnia’s recovery as the UN High Representative, may be one viable option. Leading figures from
Turkey and Norway, countries with solid reputations in both the Palestinian Territories and Israel,
should be explored as alternatives. Such an individual may be appointed as the Special
Representative of the UN Secretary-General. However, the Security Council approval process has
the potential to either produce a consensus-building figure or one stripped of all legitimacy and

Establish a Reconstruction Trust Fund. The Gaza Reconstruction Commission and

Reconstruction Chief should serve as overseers and trustees of a Reconstruction Trust Fund, an
institution which should accept, centralise, coordinate and account for the hundreds of millions of
dollars likely to be committed by donors. This Fund will ensure that international funding will be
available when it is needed rather than when it is offered and will allow international actors, who
should be included upon its board of directors, to track the use of their money while allaying
concerns that funds are supporting conflict or arms. Donors must be encouraged to provide
funds up-front rather than, as in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, being spent on credit and
only later reimbursed.

4.2. Operational Considerations

The following recommendations concern pragmatic steps which must be pursued in the first
couple months of post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

Organise a Donor Conference. A donor conference should be organised, as various

international representatives have already suggested, as soon as possible. This conference should
be organised within either Turkey, which has been closely involved in ceasefire negotiations and
is trusted by the Palestinians and, though to a lesser extent, Israel. Alternatively, organising such
a conference in Lebanon could help to remind donors to learn best practices from the last
reconstruction effort resulting from Israeli attacks. This conference should not only include
pledges of assistance but also the establishment of an institution to follow up pledges and ensure
that they are converted into commitments and, eventually, disbursements.

Conduct a Conflict Assessment to Link Reconstruction and Stabilisation.

Reconstruction processes may exacerbate conflict-causing tensions, particularly between Israel
and Hamas and between Hamas and Fatah. Strategies for conflict-sensitive programming, while
abundant, are reliant upon an accurate and up-to-date understanding of the sources of conflict
and conflict vulnerability. As such, a team of international and Palestinian experts, including
members of the Diaspora, should conduct a conflict analysis which accounts for the influence of
both the June 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza and the recently ceased conflict with Israel.49 This
analysis should be shared among all donors and integrated into their strategies and the activities
of their implementing partners. This conflict analysis should, finally, be joined by the development
of guidelines for assessing the impact of reconstruction efforts upon conflict vulnerability.50

49 The UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) ‘Strategic Conflict Assessment’ methodology is
particularly applicable in the context of intervention planning. See DFID, Strategic Conflict Assessment Guidance
Notes (London, DFID, 2002). Additional insights regarding conflict analysis may be sought in Ho-Won Jeong,
Understanding Conflict and Conflict Analysis (Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage, 2008).
50 See, for instance, Evan Hoffman, Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment Methodology (Berlin, Berghof Centre for
Constructive Conflict Management, 2001).

Reconstructing Gaza 18
Without such evaluations, which should be regularly conducted by donors, conflict vulnerability
risks becoming a buzzword rather than a critical concern.

Develop a Coordinated, Unified Reconstruction Plan. The Palestinian Territories have

traditionally been and currently appear to be awash with development plans. In the post-Oslo
reconstruction effort, a multitude of plans competed with one another for pre-eminence, and all
reportedly failed to achieve it. In recognition of this fact, a centrally coordinated planning process
led by the Gaza Reconstruction Commission. Donor agencies, other stakeholders and
international centres of excellence should be invited to submit briefs, strategies, assessment
reports and other materials to influence the deliberations. Ultimately, however, the final product
should primarily be based upon in-depth assessment of needs which will presumably be organised
by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shortly after the

Establish Effective, Accessible Coordination Mechanisms. The multitude of past

coordination mechanisms have resulted in insufficient coordination. To a significant extent, the
Gaza Reconstruction Commission and the use of a single MDTF to centralise all funds will enable
a great degree of coordination. However, donors have tended to resist the complete
centralisation of funds and will maintain bilateral aid arrangements which will need to be
coordinated. Given the stagnation which is likely to occur amid high-level coordination bodies as
the United States, European Union, World Bank and United Nations jockey for dominance, the
most important coordination bodies will be sectoral and conducted among and between
implementing agencies. One donor, likely a European bilateral institution, should assume financing
for these sectoral meetings and related electronic coordination systems.51

Limit the Role of the PA President’s Office.52 During the past half decade, donor funding
and political will have helped establish a modern and effective aid-tracking system within the
MOP. Since the ascension of Hamas in Gaza, however, many donors have circumvented this
system and begun to channel support through the President’s Office. This decision has
undermined process made on accountability and anti-corruption. Furthermore, it has resulted in a
significant loss of funds for the Gaza Strip. If the President’s Office, controlled by Fatah, is used
as the primary governmental counterpart, there exists a strong possibility that Hamas will reject
much of the assistance and accuse Fatah of attempting to use reconstruction to control Hamas
and the Gaza Strip in much the same manner as Israel historically has. Factional violence may
erupt as a result of this funding arrangement, and the goal of Palestinian unity will be deferred
further into the future.

4.3. Ensuring Local Capacity & Ownership

As previously indicated, Gaza presently lacks fully constituted and functioning municipal, non-
governmental and private-sector partners for international stakeholders. Ensuring that capacity is
quickly developed and that suitable partners exist will be key to implementing locally appropriate

51 For additional discussion of coordination in Gaza, see chapter 4, ‘Coordinating Assistance’, in Brynen, A Very Political
52 AMAN, Reconstruction National Integrity System Survey.

Reconstructing Gaza 19
interventions and in avoiding the “capture” of the reconstruction process by foreign contractors,
by international NGOs and by development consulting firms.

Support Rapid-Onset Capacity Building for Local NGOs and Municipal Officials.
The belief that capacity building should or can only be integrated across multi-year interventions
has become a truism of post-conflict reconstruction and international development. As such, it is
integrated in programmes and pursued through long-term strategies in the same way as is, for
instance, women’s empowerment. This need not be the case, and capacity building for local
NGOs and municipal officials must be implemented quickly and purposefully (rather than as a
smaller portion of larger programmes). Initial efforts should focus upon needs assessments,
accountable financial management, procurement, logistics, project design, grant writing,
monitoring and evaluation and anti-corruption. Trainings must be provided quickly, and
international NGOs with a long-term presence in Gaza (rather than the dozens which will enter in
the coming weeks) should receive assistance for providing both short-term capacity building and
longer-term mentoring to local partners.53

Simplify Tender Processes to Ensure Involvement of Local Entities, and Limit the
Number of Contracts for Non-Gazan Entities. Given the disarray which currently exists
among non-governmental organisations in the Gaza Strip, complex tender procedures or donor
protocols may result in the exclusion of local NGOs with ties to the Strip. International NGOs will,
instead, establish a monopoly given their experience with and knowledge of donors’ procedures
and requirements. Such a situation will result in decreasingly appropriate interventions and the
export of funds from Gaza back to NGO headquarters. To avoid this situation, donors must allow
for relaxed procedures during initial tenders and calls for proposals (CfPs). With regard to NGO,
grant-funded projects, donors should develop a joint application process with standardised forms
which may be used, with the addition of donor-specific appendices, when applying for grants.
Trainings on the use of this application procedure should be held for local NGOs, thus ensuring
access to all organisations regardless of their immediate capacities.

Engage Islamic Organisations. Islamic non-governmental organisations must play a strong

rule in reconstruction. Such organisations, including international ones such as Islamic Relief and
local NGOs, will have the greatest ability to ensure that interventions are culturally appropriate.
Allowing a role for religion and local traditions will, furthermore, help to establish a sense of
normalcy following devastating conflict. Finally, supporting such organisations, when not affiliated
with violent, political or “radical” movements, will help to bolster the role of moderate Islam in

4.4. Link Infrastructure & Economic Growth

Infrastructure, though increasingly out of favour as institution building, democratisation,

governance, gender and other intangible sectors rise in prominence, provides the greatest
opportunities for short-term employment generation. It must be promoted while, simultaneously,
progress is made towards linking Gaza with international markets. Doing so it critical given that
past surveys, though prior to Israeli’s unilateral withdrawal in 2005 and its subsequent

53 Sultan Barakat and Margaret Chard, ‘Building Post-war Capacity: Where to Start?’, in: S. Barakat, ed., After the
Conflict: Reconstruction and Development in the Aftermath of War (London, IB Tauris, 2005), pp. 173-190.

Reconstructing Gaza 20
containment of the population, have shown that Gazan’s viewed economic growth, not an end to
the occupation, as their first priority.54

Prime Private-Sector Growth and Increase Employment through Infrastructure

Rehabilitation. Infrastructure rehabilitation will provide an excellent opportunity for engaging
the private sector and for generating at least short-term employment. Opportunities should,
however, remain within Gaza, and outside companies and labourers should be restricted. Tender
procedures should prioritise local firms, and employment-generation should be considered an
output of infrastructure rehabilitation for the purpose of assessing bids. Furthermore,
infrastructure projects should be implemented quickly in order to demonstrate a peace divided,
with technically complex projects being delayed until fully prepared. As previously noted, the
failure to initiate infrastructure rehabilitation quickly after the signing of the Oslo Agreement was
perceived negatively by Palestinians and may have reduced optimism regarding the post-Oslo
prospects of stability and development. For instance, as of late 1997, only 49 percent of
infrastructure funding pledged in 1993 had been disbursed by donors as opposed to 92 percent
of budgetary support and 73 percent of NGO project financing.55

Mix Small and Large Infrastructure Interventions. In order to simplify administration of

interventions, donors have increasingly turned towards large interventions rather than numerous
smaller projects. Doing so helps to overcome the fragmentation which had been the hallmark of
reconstruction and development activities in many countries. However, in highly politicised
contexts with legacies of corruption and nepotism, such as Afghanistan or the Palestinian
Territories, large interventions can be easily co-opted by political groups and existing elites. The
international community cannot allow this trend to continue in Gaza, particularly given that it
would likely result in Fatah-associated or international firms and organisations dominating the
process. The first outcome would enhance conflict vulnerability, and the latter would prevent the
development of the domestic private sector and civil society. Instead, large and small grants
programmes should be established so that companies and organisations of all sizes are able to
engage. Where, as previously mentioned, concerns exist regarding the capacity of local
organisations, capacity building or mentoring relationships may be established to develop the
required skills and systems.

Prioritise Palestinian, Particularly Gazan, Firms. While a mixture of project sizes will help
to facilitate the involvement of Palestinian firms, additional steps may be necessary. While
competitive, international bidding procedures are critical in preventing waste and corruption
within reconstruction, their unmitigated application early in the reconstruction process can
frequently leave local companies competing with much larger and powerful foreign firms.
Conditionalities which mandate or give preference to suppliers from the donor’s country have an
even more deleterious effect upon the private sector in the target country. In the procurement of
materials as well as services, procurement procedures should give preference to local, Palestinian
firms and, to the degree possible, Gazan companies. A key priority for the Gaza Reconstruction
Chief will be the removal of conditionalities pertaining to procurement and the inclusion of pro-
Gazan criteria within the assessment of bids.

54 Shikaki, Shikaki: Since Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza, Palestinians Now Give Top Priority to Improving Living Standards,
Not End to Occupation. Interestingly, ending corruption was the second priority, with an end to the occupation
coming in as the third.
55 Brynen, A Very Political Economy, p. 155.

Reconstructing Gaza 21
Develop Incentives for FDI through Investment or Political Risk Insurance. The
high rates of conflict reversion in post-conflict countries, assessed between 20 and 40 percent,
provide an unattractive and risk-laden environment for FDI. The violence, political uncertainty,
administrative complexity and restrictive movement of people and goods in Gaza make it all the
more uninviting. While various market-based insurance products have been proposed for
challenging environments for investment, Gaza will require far more. Instead, international
financing should be mobilised in order to insure a portion of private-sector investments which fail
due to conflict rather than due to poor management or a weak business model. Investment risk
insurance dues just this by mitigating ‘non-commercial risks, including deprivation of ownership or
control by governmental actions, breach of contract…where there is no judicial recourse, and loss
from military action or civil disturbance’.56 The World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee
Agency (MIGA) and its West Bank and Gaza Investment Guarantee Trust Fund provide one viable
model which should be expanded.57 While previous political risk insurance programmes, such as
the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), have had a rather
unsuccessful history in the Palestinian Territories, failing to attract the anticipated level of
private-sector interest, such guarantees must remain in place so that they are available once
investor interest finally does return.58

Expand International Trade Routes and Opportunities. As the World Bank has
consistently concluded, economic growth in Gaza will be driven by the private sector and, in
particular, by international trade.59 At present, an anaemic proportion of Gazan products are
exported to other Arab countries or the EU, according to the MOP.60 The economic reliance upon
Israel is heavily influenced and constricted by Israeli security concerns and the delays imposed on
exports coming from Gaza. (It must, however, be noted that remarkably few exports have been
allowed from Gaza since mid-2007 and none since June 2008.61) Expansion beyond the Israeli
market will benefit from favourable, duty-free trade arrangements with the European Union,
though transportation will continue to pose major challenges. Two solutions seem most
appropriate. The first, as recommended by the World Bank, is to establish an international
agreement whereby Gazan businesses have access to the Sinai port and the Cairo airport.62
Concerns over smuggling between Gaza and Egypt may, however, complicate such a logical
solution. As such, a second option, developing Gaza’s port facilities under international
supervision, must be pursued in the medium term.

Promote Import of Gazan Products among EU and Arab States. At present, the
Palestinian Territories remain economically wed to Israel. More than 92 percent of Palestinian
exports in 2000, the most recent year for which data appears to be publicly available, went to
(or, though the data is not clear, though) Israel while only 7 percent was exported to other Arab

56 Richard A. Mann and Barry S. Roberts, Smith and Robertson’s Business Law, Thirteenth Edition (Mason, OH,
Thomson/South-Western, 2006), p. 963.
57 Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, West Bank and Gaza Investment Guarantee Trust Fund (Washington, DC,
World Bank Group, undated), <> (7 Jan. 2009).
58 Brynen, A Very Political Economy, p. 156.
59 World Bank, Palestinian Economic Prospects.
60 Ministry of Planning, Foreign Trade Indicators, 1997-2000 (Ramallah, Palestinian National Authority, 2003),
<> (5 Jan. 2009).
61 World Bank, Palestinian Economic Prospects, p. 23.
62 Ibid.

Reconstructing Gaza 22
countries, primarily Egypt.63 Trade agreements, where existing, should be enforced, though the
greater need appears to be a commitment by countries in the MENA region and Europe, in
particular, to promote and facilitate trade with Gaza as well as with the West Bank. Specific
products required by these countries and which the Territories have a reliable ability to produce
should be identified, and international financing should be targeted to address these industries,
including but not limited to agriculture.

Enable Labour Migration and Remittances to Spur Short-Term Growth. While

Labour migration is common throughout much of the world, Palestinian populations, particularly
in Gaza, have had little freedom of movement. As a result, they have failed to develop the sorts
of remittance-derived income from which many other developing countries have benefited.
Arrangements with other countries in the MENA region should be investigated in order to enable
short-term labour migration with, critically, the right to return to Gaza and to transfer assets
there guaranteed by the Israeli government. Doing so would not only help to inject much-needed
cash into the Palestinian economy but would also lessen the socio-economic pressure which
builds up due to the presence of a large and unemployed youth population.

4.5. Other Considerations

A wide variety of other activities and considerations should be accounted for during the
reconstruction process. The following are a handful of recommendations and considerations
which should receive additional attention.

Focus upon Food-Security-Linked Agriculture. Gazan agriculture has frequently been

caught between a desire to link high-value products, such as carnations and strawberries, with
international markets and a need to ensure basic food security. A trend towards the former has
been partly reversed as a result of rising prices for basic foodstuffs and the financial losses
recently suffered by those exporting high-value products, and reconstruction should aim to
ensure that basic, on-the-ground food security is prioritised over export crops.64 International
trade, while critical, should not endanger basic food security or increase reliance upon external
food aid (particularly during a global economic crisis which will result in vastly reduced
humanitarian aid spending by major donors).

Diversify and Decentralise Energy Supply through Reconstruction. The recently

ended conflict resulted in the loss of energy to nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s population, thus
exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.65 The unpredictable and dramatically fluctuating cost of fuel
likewise makes Gaza energy insecure even during times of relative calm. The region would be far
more secure, at all times, if energy sources were diversified and decentralised. Solar, wind and
tidal energy are all viable, to varying degrees, within Gaza and should be pursued.66 For example,

63 Ministry of Planning, Foreign Trade Indicators, 1997-2000.

64 UNCTAD, Report on UNCTAD Assistance to the Palestinian People (Geneva, UN Conference on Trade and
Development, 2008), p. 7. According to this publication, in 2007, Palestinian carnation-growers were able to export
only 20 percent of their produce, with the remaining four-fifths of flowers having been turned into animal feed.
Similarly, strawberry exporters lost US$7 million in 2007, thus undercutting the notion that high-value agricultural
exports are critical to economic development in the Palestinian Territories.
65 Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, Electricity Shortages in the Gaza Strip: Situation Report (Ramallah,
UN-OCHA, 8 Jan. 2009), <>, (9 Jan. 2009).
66 Lubna K. Hamdan, Maryam Zarei, Russell R. Chianelli and Elizabeth Gardner, ‘Sustainable water and energy in Gaza
Strip’, Renewable Energy 33 (2008), pp. 1137-1146.

Reconstructing Gaza 23
solar panels generating electricity for hospitals could allow them to maintain a proportion of their
services even when primary and secondary sources are no longer producing.

Protect Cultural Heritage and Identity, Particularly with Regard to Housing.

Previous rounds of reconstruction in Palestine, particularly following the Oslo Agreement, have
tended to provide sound but architecturally and culturally inappropriate structures. The result has
been a loss of cultural identity and the creation of a sterile, functional environment which
contributes to the population’s sense of being, for lack of a better word, imprisoned. Housing, in
particular, must be designed with adequate attention to open spaces and the tendency for
multiple generations to live within a single dwelling. Past housing construction efforts have been
built with little attention to green open spaces and according to a Western notion of a nuclear
family domicile.67 Owner-driven reconstruction, while increasingly popular, presents an interesting
opportunity to ensure cultural and individual appropriateness, though only if the international
community is able to provide extensive technical assistance to ensure compliance with technical

Integrate Emergency Preparedness in Reconstruction.68 Despite the authors’ hopes and

wishes, there is little reason to believe that Gaza will be immune to future violence and suffering.
As such it will be critical to integrate emergency preparedness into the reconstruction process.
Buildings, particularly homes, should be designed to survive an indirect strike as well as, for good
measure, the type of earthquakes for which many experts indicate the region is presently
overdue. Furthermore, humanitarian corridors and safe havens should be established and agreed
upon by all relevant actors to avoid attacks against ad hoc safe havens and the sorts of delays in
humanitarian assistance delivery seen in this most recent conflict.69


The strategies and options above should be discussed and debated, most imperatively where
they verge close to technical fields in which various international institutions have decades worth
of experience. The foundational recommendations, the authors would like to reiterate, are
imperative in starting the reconstruction process from a position of strength. Though Gaza’s
recovery may never be “lost”, a substantial amount of its promise and potential certainly will be if
international and Gazan stakeholders use the process to demonstrate rather than overcome
existing animosities and parochial agendas.

67 Sultan Barakat, Ghasan Elkahlout and Tim Jacoby, ‘The Reconstruction of Housing in Palestine 1993-2000: A Case
Study from the Gaza Strip’, Housing Studies vol. 19, no. 2, pp.175-192.
68 Sultan Barakat and Ian Davis, ‘Disaster Preparedness for Palestine’, in A.B. Zahlan, ed., The Reconstruction of
Palestine: Urban and Rural Development (London, Kegan Paul International, 1997), pp. 287-303.
69 Information regarding the integration of emergency preparedness into reconstruction can be found in a soon-to- be-
released report, Sultan Barakat and Steven A. Zyck with Jenny Hunt, Housing Compensation and Disaster
Preparedness in the Aftermath of the July 2006 War in South Lebanon (York and Beirut, Post-war Reconstruction
and Development Unit, on behalf of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Dec. 2008).

Reconstructing Gaza 24
5. Conclusion

The aforementioned lessons and recommendations should help strengthen the reconstruction
process and result in a Gaza Strip that is stronger and more prosperous than before the recently
ceased conflict. Despite the potential for such improvements, progress on recovery and
development should not sanitise or be used to rationalise away the horrors of the conflict. Nor
should international involvement absolve Israel of its moral responsibility to finance
reconstruction in the Territories, land over which it claims ultimate authority yet has so often
deferred responsibility.

Nor should Hamas consider its belligerence in the face of Israeli attacks a mandate for
continuation of its past policies and practices. While large segments of the international
community have been short-signed and narrow-minded in simply labelling Hamas, a political
movement with an ideology shared by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a terrorist
organisation, it has recently led Gaza into a political and economic quagmire. The flight of foreign
investment, economic decline, closure of civil society organisations and atrophy in municipal
services have resulted in increased suffering and weakened hopes for Palestinian statehood and
a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This upcoming reconstruction presents an immense opportunity to get Gaza back on the track to
development, to ensure that reconstruction supports peace and Palestinian unity and to, more
fundamentally, tackle the suffering which has afflicted the Gazan population. For the sake of
Gaza and the region in which it sits, we hope it will not prove another missed opportunity.

Reconstructing Gaza 25

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Reconstructing Gaza 28











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